The dying Russian space program, from a Russian’s perspective

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Link here. I have written previously about how Russia’s space effort seems to be steadily shrinking, month-to-month. This article gives the perspective from the point of view of a Russian who writes about space, and provides some concrete further examples of the program’s bureaucratic problems:

For example, the Russian space agency has been developing a “new” science and research module for the space station, “Nauka,” since 1995. More than two decades later, the module still awaits a decision on whether it should actually be completed.

Borisov asserts that this is because there are concerns about post-launch problems. “No official from Russia’s space industry wants to take responsibility for the laboratory module and its safety for use as part of the ISS, about which many questions have arisen,” he writes. (A translation of the 3,000-word article was provided to Ars by Robinson Mitchell).

The story is similar for Russia’s next-generation spacecraft, Federation. Instead of investing in this new vehicle designed for deep-space crew activities, which has been under development for a decade, Russia will likely opt to continue revising the Soyuz spacecraft, which first launched 52 years ago. This was before NASA’s Apollo capsule had flown.

The Putin government made a decision in the past decade to consolidate their entire space industry into one giant government-run corporation. In the process they eliminated all competition, and put every new project under the control of government bureaucrats whose first concern is not innovation and risk, but covering their behinds. As such, Russia has found it impossible to produce new space technology fast enough to compete.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *